40 Countries of the World Responded “We Love You”

The 13th World Soft Tennis Championships was held in Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, from September 7 to 13. It was the greatest scale championship in its history by the participation of 500 athletes from 40 countries including new members from 15 European countries. The International We Love U Foundation, which was renamed to work internationally for saving life and practicing neighborly love, volunteered to improve national and regional image by preparing the cultural events for experiencing Korean tradition and volunteering for interpretation service during the championships.

200 members of the foundation, who are fluent in foreign languages, volunteered to interpret for 14 languages used in 40 countries. They welcomed all the teams at the Incheon Intl. Airport and guided them both inside and outside of the gym. 20 university student members helped foreigners experience Korean culture.

Although soft tennis has a world championship, it is, what is called, an unpopular sport and there is big discrepancy of ability between countries. So it was possible for the teams who dropped behind early in the game to be disappointed and return home. At this championship, however, the athletes who had lost the games and were in low spirits, got their smile back and had fun as if they enjoyed a festival. Monica Almasy, the Swiss team coach said, “I feel friendly towards Korea and Koreans. I feel like I’m in Switzerland.” The Dutch team coach Annette Decker wore a big smile, saying, “You are warm hearted people. I was deeply moved.”

The IWF booth, which was set up next to the Anseong City International Soft Tennis Court Main Stadium, had a constant stream of foreigners. People, who visited the place to experience Korean traditional culture, all said that they were deeply impressed with Koreans’ warm heartedness and the beauty of Korea. Especially, Hanbok which has beautiful color and style won popularity; foreigners were in line to try it on.

Jack Susa, the Dutch team coach, wore a Hanbok designed for a bridegroom and complimented it by saying, “Traditional Korean dress has beautiful color.” He also thanked the members who gave them a heartfelt welcome, saying, “We can know whether a man is sincere or not through his smile. I can see from your smiles that you truly welcome us.” The female athletes from India, who were happy to dye their nails with balsam flower leaves, made the volunteers admired, because their braided hair went very well with Hanbok. Among them, Sharfen Prit Kaur gave her special thanks to the interpretation volunteers, saying, “I was nervous to come to Korea because of the language barrier, but I feel easy because you help my communication.”

Trying Korean games such as—playing shuttlecock with the feet, slapping match, Tuho (throwing sticks into a barrel)—and tasting Dalgona (Korean’s sweet cookie made with sugar and baking powder), the athletes from various countries said, “We’re happy regardless of game result.” They shared love and friendship, responding “We love you! We love Korea!” to the members’ message, “We love you.”

The board members of each team and guests visited the IWF booth and asked the members to come to their countries, saying, “I hope this kind of love-sharing movement will spread throughout the world.” Furthermore, the Scottish team thanked for enthusiastic and systemic support of the IWF and requested PR materials of the foundation, saying, “We will submit it to the National Assembly to make a foundation like IWF in our country.” The Minister of Sports of Mongolia, Naranbaatar, thanked the members, saying, “Our Mongolian team made a good score thanks to your cordial reception and support.” Park Sang-ha the President of the International Soft Tennis Federation (ISTF), and Lee Dong-hui the Mayor of Anseong city complimented the members, saying, “Volunteers are the driving force behind international events.”

The members, who finished all their volunteer work by interpreting at the farewell ceremony at the airport on September 14, said good-bye to the athletes, wishing them remember Koreans’ love towards the world.